8
Our overall verdict "Excellent"

Invisible Inc. [$15.99] is a turn-based squad strategy game along the same lines as X-COM , but with more focus on stealth rather than combat. You take control of an international spy agency, infiltrating enemy facilities to steal currency, items, and information. The game is currently for sale as an Early Access title, and under development by Klei Entertainment, known for their work on Don’t Starve and Mark of the Ninja.

Once you start a game you’re taken to a map of the world. Several points on the map are highlighted, and represent possible missions to undertake, each mission has a specific goal, time cost, and a difficulty rating. Currently the game is running on a timer, where you have a set amount of hours to complete missions before one final level. From what I understand this is a temporary Early Access end-game, and will change with the release of the full version. This is done as after each completed game you will unlock new characters with your total accumulated points.

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Inside each facility you’re given a simple goal to accomplish, depending on the building. From agent extraction and vault infiltration to corporate secret theft. Inside a level your agents are running on a ticking clock. Each turn made the security system of the building gets closer to strengthening their countermeasures. Additional cameras may activate, servers will increase their firewalls, and extra guards will begin to patrol the floor. Once you’re on the mission floor your agents are at your complete disposal. You start with two agents, with the option to unlock / rescue more as the game progresses. Each agent has a set amount of action points per turn, these are used to move, interact with the environment, and use items. You must make the most out of your action points and be sure to take cover as much as possible, as guards patrol across multiple rooms and if you’re found in the open you will be fired upon resulting in a dead agent. Luckily they’re not too bright, so hiding behind a fern is a viable tactic in this game.

The tools at your disposal are minimal to begin with, but as you progress through each mission you’ll unlock and purchase an assortment of weapons, gadgets, and augmentations. Cloaking fields, electronic scanners and tranquilizer dart guns are among some of my favourites. Your agents have limited inventory slots that can be upgraded with money, so you’ll have to manage what gear you need to bring on each mission.

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As well as your active field agents you also have access to ‘Incognita’, the agency’s AI program. Using Incognita you are able to hack servers, cameras, turrets, laser grids, and anything else electronic. But Incognita must be managed properly, as every function requires power to use, which comes in a limited supply. Depending on what ‘programs’ you choose at the start of the game you can slowly replenish Incognita’s power each turn, or make the system more efficient with more powerful hacking programs. Your agents can also physically jack Incognita into power terminals found on each floor for a quick one-off boost of power.

Each mission has a strict objective to accomplish, but also has targets of opportunity you can exploit. Corporate information and valuable artefacts can be found in vaults, sold to the highest bidder. Nano-shops are available to upgrade your agents on the fly, and even guards can be robbed of their meagre savings from their wallets. Staying on a floor will increase the chance of your agents being found and killed, but the reward is sometimes well worth the risk. Once you’ve plundered the level your agents must be extracted via elevator, which can be a whole other level of difficulty itself, as a lot of the time the exit is situated behind some locked doors, or near a guard room. 

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Invisible Inc is brutal and unforgiving of mistakes. One wrong turn and you can end up with both agents dead. You must do what you can to remain undetected, but you can also employ diversion techniques to help gain leverage over the guards of the level. You can lure patrolling guards into a trap by leaving a door open or letting them spot you for a second before ducking away behind a wall. When they investigate you can lie in wait with your tazer (or gun if you’re so inclined), and take them out temporarily with a stun (or.. well.. permanently with a bullet). Stunned guards can be looted and dragged around the level, or even drugged to remain unconscious. But be careful, guards will come to eventually and begin to actively search the entire floor for your agents. The bullet solution fixes that, but it’s loud, limited, and costly. Invisible Inc encourages you to be sneaky, but there are options to go in guns blazing if that’s your play style.

Steam Link [$15.99]

Invisible Inc is currently available on Steam through Early Access, with plans to release the core game in early 2015.